By Gregor Brown in Sanremo
Mark Cavendish made a magical debut in Milano-Sanremo on Saturday, taking a bunch sprint to secure his first Classic title and become the third youngest winner in the race's history – Ugo Agostoni in 1914 and Eddy Merckx in 1966 were both 20.
Question: You won Milano-Sanremo at the first attempt. It took Mario Cipollini 13 times before he got the win. What did he say to you at the finish?
Mark Cavendish: "He came and congratulated me. He is a nice guy. I nearly made a mistake in California last year, but we worked it out over the winter when we trained together a few times. He is a nice guy. I know it [took him 13 years to win]. I know, I know... But I am sorry."
Q: What did Erik Zabel say to you at the end? You trained with him a lot in the days leading up to the race.
MC: "Erik came up to me and said he got this [a silver bracelet] as a gift when he won his first Milano-Sanremo. He gave it to me today. I can say that without his help I would not have won today. We did reconnaissance twice and I knew where I had to be at what time in the race's finale. You could see from the team's emotions that we knew it could work, and it did. It is a real special day for us both."
Cavendish had the help of the entire Columbia-Highroad team to achieve his win in one of only cycling's five monuments. Thomas Lövkvist, winner of Eroica Toscana a couple of weeks ago, led Cavendish and George Hincapie to the base of the Cipressa with 28 kilometres remaining. Hincapie took care of him through the finale, similar work to what he did in the final stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico.